This article is part of our series “COVID-19: 1 Year Later,” exploring the ways COVID-19 has affected and changed daily life over the last year. For two weeks, we surveyed our readers on how COVID-19 has affected them. Read our survey results here. Today, we are sharing the story of how one local small business has weathered the pandemic storm.
When Cynthia Wenger and her husband opened Play It Again Sports ~ Brentwood about two years ago, the last thing they expected was a pandemic to come along and change life as we know it. The business model is based on the buying and selling of gently used team sports equipment, so when team sports ended, they had to figure out how to survive because although this store is part of the chain with that name, each store is independently owned. They are one of the many small businesses that found a way to weather the storm that is COVID-19.
“We were completely gearing up for [spring and summer 2020] team sports,” said Wenger, “and then there wasn’t. So, we were filled with stuff that nobody wanted. But we thought at first that it would last a month or two.”
Of course, life closed down in those couple of months. But suddenly Play It Again Sports ~ Brentwood was overwhelmed with people wanting home fitness equipment because they couldn’t go to the gym, and were stuck home.
“Until the pandemic,” added Wenger, “we would sell one bike a day. Then all of a sudden, we were selling 10 to 15 bikes a day. Suddenly, bikes became hard to get. Major manufacturers didn’t want to sell to small companies because they were making fewer bikes. We found a small company in the United States that would make bikes for us. They poured them into our shop.”
Dumbbells were the number one seller for Play It Again Sports ~ Brentwood during the pandemic, and then suddenly they couldn’t get them anymore.
“They come from China,” Wenger explained. “As the pandemic deepened, manufacturing closed down. The metal that weights are made from comes from China. They melt it, shape it, cure it, box it and ship it. And then they didn’t.”
Suddenly it was getting harder to get bikes from their small company that had grown exponentially, and metal for dumbbells was non-existent. They moved on to selling gently used sports and fitness equipment.
Then their daughter lost her job in Washington, DC. She came home and started working with her parents at the store. They soldiered on.
Slowly, things began to pick up as manufacturing started up again. Now, they are almost back to normal.
Manufacturing is coming back very slowly from overseas, so they had to find manufacturers in this country that could produce items, especially weights. HEX in Chicago started making rubber dumbbells, and Play It Again Sports found them in December. Since it is currently the number one item in the industry, the connection has made a huge difference.
After dumbbells and bikes, people were looking for skateboards and roller skates. Now customers are back to ellipticals. And team sports are gearing up again.
“We want to get back to our original business model, selling new and gently used sports equipment,” said Wenger, “but we are afraid to give up what has kept us going if it all starts up again.”
Still, they are looking forward to getting back to being in the sports equipment business. Before the pandemic, Play It Again Sports ~ Brentwood was the number one retailer of used sports equipment. Now the category doesn’t even exist.
They are patiently waiting until people are ready to buy and sell used sports equipment instead of holding on to it tightly – just in case.
Play It Again Sports ~ Brentwood is a consignment-based store that sells, trades, and consigns used sports equipment. They give 30% on sales, 40% on trade, and 50% for consignment. For more information, go to their website: www.playitagainsportsbrentwood.com
Play It Again Sports ~ Brentwood
1701 Mallory Lane, Suite 350
Brentwood, TN 37027
Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Sunday: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
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